Fazica v. Jordan

Court: 6th Circuit
Case Number: No. 18-1457
Decision Date: June 10, 2019
Case Type: Immunity - Official
The Sixth Circuit held that summary judgment on grounds of qualified immunity was not warranted in a case where a female arrestee was forcibly strip-searched by an entirely male team of law enforcement officers. Fazica was arrested for drunk driving by the Bloomfield, Michigan Police Department (BPD) and was taken to the county jail. An extraction team of officers from the county jail met Fazica upon her arrival and immediately put a spit hood over her head and moved her into the jail in a handcuffed and bent-over position. The entirely male team than took her into a room where she was forced to lie on her stomach and was strip search with her pants physically torn off her body and one officer placing his hands on her genitals while another groped her breasts. Fazica was then forced to walk to a cell wearing only her bra and the spit hood. 
Fazica filed suit under Section 1983 alleging excessive force in violation of her Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The defendants moved for summary judgment on qualified immunity grounds, arguing that Fazica could not attribute specific actions to specific officers in the allegedly unconstitutional acts. The district court denied the motion for summary judgment. The Sixth Circuit held that the burden of proof was with Fazica but she merely needed to show that each individual defendant either exerted excessive force on her or observed a co-worker doing so and, given the opportunity, failed to intervene. The court held that a reasonable jury, using the record evidence, could make such a finding and, therefore, affirmed the district court’s denial of summary judgment to the defendants.